Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty, Brendan at the Chelsea) has returned to the Lyric in Conor McPherson’s new play, ‘The Night Alive.’ And he is simply outstanding.
The anticipation was palpable as the packed out audience excitedly flocked to see renowned NI star Adrian Dunbar return to the Lyric’s stage during the opening night of the 2015 Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival on Friday night.
And it’s fair to say, the Northern Irish premiere was nothing short of exceptional. Deservedly receiving a prolonged standing ovation, in addition to several break-outs of applause throughout the performance – to say this play is laugh-out-loud a minute would be selling it short.
Set in Dublin, the play tells the story of Tommy (Dunbar) – a middle-aged man, just about getting by. He’s renting a run-down room in his Uncle Maurice’s house, keeping his ex-wife and kids at arm’s length and rolling from one get-rich-quick scheme to the other with his pal Doc.
Then one night he comes to the aid of Aimee, who’s not had it easy herself, struggling through life the only way she knows how. Their past won’t let go easily. But together there’s a glimmer of hope that they could make something more of their lives. Something extraordinary. Perhaps. With inimitable warmth, style and craft, The Night Alive deftly mines the humanity to be found in the most unlikely of situations.
This is simply a must-see play, with each individual cast member so perfectly portraying their roles, that it’s difficult to imagine them playing anyone else. The sparkling on-stage chemistry means you’ll feel like you have undergone an emotional roller-coaster with the various ups and downs throughout the play, and you’ll soon find yourself quickly forgetting you are sitting on a seat in the Lyric Theatre, rather than sat in Tommy’s (delightfully messy) bedroom.
Dunbar as Tommy, alongside Laurence Kinlan make an side-splitting hilarious on-screen comedy duo, whilst Kate Stanley Brennan’s portrayal of Aimee, the enigmatic troubled young woman, adds a whole new dimension to the play.
Coronation Street actor Frank Grimes as Maurice has us tugging on our heart strings, whilst Ian-Lloyd Anderson (Kenneth) will have you on the edge of your seat with his unnervingly menacing performance.
Combined, these stars simply put on a stellar all-round show. Extremely hilarious, yes, but also with such particularly poignantly upsetting moments that brought the audience to near-tears.
This is a play that will have you laughing hysterically with tears of laughter streaming down your face, to watching with your hands in front of your eyes, to wondering philosophically about the heavier meanings hidden within this excellent narrative.
Written and directed by Conor McPherson (The Weir, The Seafarer), The Night Alive is a co-production between the Lyric Theatre and Dublin Theatre Festival, and opened this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival at the Gaiety Theatre.
The Lyric Theatre’s Executive Producer Jimmy Fay explained: “The Night Alive is an extraordinary play that manages to be funny, shocking, contemporary and moving, and the reaction from audiences in Dublin has been amazing. I’m really excited to bring it to Belfast for the first time, and I think our Lyric audiences are going to be blown away by the play.”
It’s safe to say, we were. And we think you will be too…
The Night Alive is on the Danske Bank Stage of the Lyric Theatre from October 6-31. Check out lyrictheatre.co.uk for more info, and remember students get extra value tickets for just a tenner on any Lyric show on Tues, Wed & Thurs.